Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) chairperson John Kapito was on Tuesday still waiting for police to return the foreign currency they seized when he was arrested on Saturday to enable him to leave for Switzerland, Geneva.
MHRC executive director Grace Malera said they hoped the police would release the forex to enable Kapito to leave by Wednesday because Malawi is expected to present a human rights report to facilitate accreditation of MHRC into the UN Human Rights Council.
Malera said: â€œ[Monday] is Malawiâ€™s crucial day at the International Coordinating Committee [ICC] of the office of Human Rights Commission meeting. We are hopeful the authorities would be considerate, we are running out of time.â€
Kapito, a fierce critic of President Bingu wa Mutharika, was arrested at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on Saturday by about 25 police officers on suspicion that he was in possession of seditious materials and illegal possession of foreign currency.
Kapito, who was released later in the night after a search in his car and at his home yielded nothing, told the media he was accused of possessing a gun and T-shirts printed with words meant to incite people to revolt, among others.
Osisa condemns Kapitoâ€™s arrest
Meanwhile, a South African-based regional human rights body, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa), has condemned Kapitoâ€™s arrest.
Osisa executive director Sisonke Msimang said in a statement: â€œJohn Kapito was arrested because he has criticised the President and taken the government to taskâ€”and to courtâ€”over some of its more undemocratic and unconstitutional measures.â€
But national police spokesperson Davie Chingwalu on Wednesday dismissed the assertions that Kapitoâ€™s arrest was political, arguing the police arrest people in connection with suspected crimes.